15 February 2013 – Letter: In response to Mr Chris Johnson’s comments on the Better Planning Network, I wish to clarify the following:
1. The nature of our affiliated groups
As at today, the Better Planning Network has 260 affiliated community groups across NSW, and this number continues to grow daily. A list of our affiliated groups is available at betterplanningnetwork.good.do, and includes precinct committees; progress, ratepayers and residents associations; residents action groups, historical societies; heritage groups; and environmental groups.
Like the Urban Taskforce, the Better Planning Network has access to the expertise of a diversity of professionals, many with decades of experience in the fields of architecture, planning and planning law.
Mr Johnson’s claim that the Better Planning Network is “mainly landscape groups, environment centres, bushland societies, conservation societies, the friends of the koala, heritage groups and the Nature Conservation Council” focused on “the ecological” is misinformed.
2. Our stand on growth and development
The Better Planning Network is not “anti-growth or anti-development”. We believe that growth can be positive and that there are many ways of achieving good development. The Better Planning Network is striving to attain a fair and responsible planning system which regulates growth and development that:
- Enhances the liveability of communities through appropriate development and infrastructure (“communities” being the people who live in the area in which the growth and development is occurring)
- Maintains or enhances our natural environment; and
- Preserves our cultural heritage.
The Better Planning Network also wants to see a planning system that minimises the risk of corruption.
We do not believe that the planning reforms outlined in the Green Paper will encourage appropriate development that minimises corruption and enhances the wellbeing of our communities.
In relation to the risk of corruption, the Independent Commission Against Corruption has itself formally raised a number of serious concerns, notably regarding Enterprise Zones and merit assessment.
3. The way forward
The Better Planning Network recognises that our current planning system is in need of reform. However, we will not support a planning system that promotes economic growth to the detriment of community wellbeing, our environment and heritage.
It is also clear to us that a planning system which does not have the support of communities across NSW is bound to fail sooner or later. This view is supported by the report on the independent Planning System Review by Tim Moore and Ron Dwyer, which identifies community acceptance as one of two elements required for a reformed planning system to work well.
On this basis, it is in the interests of all concerned, including the Urban Taskforce and its membership, to have a planning system which is acceptable not only to developers but to communities also.
Such a planning system would need to be perceived as fair by all parties. This is not the case with many of the planning reforms outlined in the Green Paper.
We welcome dialogue with anyone interested in achieving a fair planning system for NSW.
Corinne Fisher is founder and convenor of the Better Planning Network